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Information for Landlords
The Council is able to pay Housing Benefit directly to landlords in specific circumstances to assist the customer to secure a new tenancy or remain in their current home at a reduced rent.
Benefit customers will be able to seek advice and assistance from Housing Advice who may in certain instances negotiate a reduction in rent on the tenant’s behalf .If the landlord reduces the rent to the LHA level or below, the landlord can receive direct payments of Housing Benefit which are made four weekly in arrears.
From April 2013, Local Housing Allowance rates are now fixed annually and Housing Benefit entitlement cannot exceed the relevant LHA bedroom rate.
How benefit is paid
Benefit can be paid directly to the landlord if, the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent. It can also be paid directly if the tenant advises that they are having difficulty in paying their rent.
Payment may be made to the landlord where it is considered that it will assist the customer in retaining or securing a tenancy. For a tenancy to be retained or secured, the rent should be affordable to the tenant. This means that the rent should be set at or below the LHA level.
If the rent is higher than the LHA level, which would produce a a shortfall that the tenant is unable to meet, the safeguard will not apply.
Who can ask for the payments to be made to the landlord?
Tenants, landlords, tenants’ families or persons acting on the tenants’ behalf, may tell the local authority that a tenant is having difficulty paying their rent, or is likely to. The local authority may also identify tenants who may have difficulty managing their money, for example, when carrying out home visits. Landlords can contact the local authority, especially if the tenant is getting into arrears with their rent.
Further information can be found on the Tenants who are likely to have difficulty paying their rent web page.
To apply for payments to be made direct to a landlord you can complete the Payment Direct to Landlord online form.
Who decides if we may pay the landlord?
The Council decides if the landlord is to be paid. Housing Benefit staff may know that someone has difficulty in managing their money and may take action based on this knowledge. Tenants are encouraged to contact the Council if they are having difficulty managing their money.
Evidence must be provided to show that the tenant is having difficulty managing their money and that it is in their interest that we pay the landlord directly. Evidence should usually be in writing. We will work with the tenant in making our decision.
People who can provide evidence include:
- the tenant
- friends and family of the tenant
- the landlord
- welfare groups ( including money advisers)
- Social Services
- probation officers
- Jobcentre Plus
- the Pension Service
- homeless charities/organisations
- Supporting People teams
- local/council rent deposit scheme administrators, homelessness or housing advice officers
Making a decision
Once we have collected evidence we will decide as quickly as possible if direct payments to the landlord are appropriate. We will still pay benefit while we are making our decision.
We will write to the tenant and the landlord to explain our decision.
If the tenant or landlord disagrees with our decision they can ask us to look at the decision again. This is called reconsideration. Or they can appeal against the decision, giving reasons why they think the decision is wrong.
Tenants can get help managing their money from a welfare organisation such as Citizens Advice.